Saturday, November 7, 2009

SOMEWHERE, ALICIA SILVERSTONE IS WEEPING:There are reports that Steven Tyler wants to leave Aerosmith and pursue a solo career. Aerosmith's a strange case--a nice bunch of hits in the 70s (capped with "Dream On"), then dormancy until the Run-DMC "Walk This Way," leading to Permanent Vacation and Pump, then the Silverstone trilogy of videos, and their first (and only) #1 in 1998 with "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing." Any suggestions for who can replace Tyler? Sure seems like a potential return of "Rock Star" to me.

Friday, November 6, 2009

STILL IT WOULD PROBABLY MAKE A GREAT MASH-UP WITH "BOY IN THE BUBBLE": Buried in this Times of London article listing "70 Facts You Didn't Know about Marvel Comics" is this amazing little-known fact at No. 29:
Paul Simon wrote the lyrics and theme song to the Sixties Spider-man cartoon as a favour to head of the ABC network. Because he didn't want to be associated with kiddie material, he asked that the music be credited to his old stage name, Jerry Landis.
Paul Simon, one of pop music's greatest lyricists is responsible for the iconic line "Is he strong? Listen, Bud!/He's got radioactive blood"? Umm, maybe not so much. While Simon did write and record a bunch of songs in the '60s under the Landis name, the famous Spider-Man theme features lyrics by Oscar-winner Paul Francis Webster and music by Bob Harris.

'Nuff said.

I'M FINDING THAT NAME PITCHY, DAWG: One thing I learn in my area of work is that celebrities tend to organize corporate entities to hold their name/trademark rights. For instance, the "Jennifer Lopez" marks are owned by "JLO Holding," and the "Halle Berry" marks are owned by "Bellah Brands." But Idol judge Randy Jackson wins. His various "Randy Jackson" and "Randy Jackson Presents" marks are owned by "Love Deacons of Soul, Inc."
THE AREAS OF HIS EXPERTISE: John Hodgman is interviewed about being "a PC," how he is different from Michael Cera, his favorite restaurants in the Bay Area, and whether we will ever see a "John Hodgman vehicle."
UNDOUBTEDLY, IT'S A LITTLE MORE DIFFICULT FOR A CENTAUR TO DO: I'm sure there's a perfectly legitimate explanation for what transpired after this hit-by-pitch in a Korean baseball game.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

ALL GOOD THINGS: Congratulations to the New York Yankees (and their fans) for winning the 2009 World Series.

Yes, I'm disappointed this morning, but only disappointed. Not angry, not hurt, not depressed. Certainly last year's title and parade remains a balm for these fresh wounds, but even beyond that I feel like this team did as best it could on the field, that the front office took all the right steps in putting the best 25 on that field (no, Pedro, we still love you), and that some things just weren't meant to be.

But this isn't over yet. Bob Ford reminds us that this blessed core still has some peak years left -- "Ryan Howard turns 30 this month, and both Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins turn 31 during the offseason. Jayson Werth turns 31 in May." It's the rest of the team we may never see again quite like this -- no more using Stairs in case of emergency, perhaps no more Chan Ho Park. As David Murphy noted last night, "One thing is for sure: the 25 players who walked off the field amidst the mayhem at Yankee Stadium last night will never play together again."

Great season, but not quite enough, and that's okay. We'll be back.

Now comes the sad part. Sepinwall controls my Twitter avatar for the next week per the terms of our bet. At least I don't have to tip my cap and call him my daddy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NO COKE, PEPSI!: Via BoingBoing, check out this video of a fellow who runs an all-specialty soda pop shop in Los Angeles. Video is ~12 minutes, but I defy you not to love this guy by the end.

I'll take me one of those Double Colas!
WE ARE OF PEACE, AT LEAST FOR THE NEXT 23 OR SO MINUTES:I only have fairly vague recollections of the original V, most of which involve a gerbil, but given the cast and pedigree, I decided to check out the remake tonight. While I still support any effort to get Morena Baccarin back on to our TV sets (though the pixie haircut is, while appropriate for the part, not terribly attractive) and the technical aspects of the pilot were pretty much flawless, I'm still not sure what I thought. In particular, while I readily see how this sustains itself for 13 episodes, I'm not quite sure where it goes from there. There's only so many "he's really an alien!" plot twists they can pull out of their hat. What did everyone else think?
HOPE FOR PEDRO: What impresses me about this city right now is that everyone here seems to assume that there will be a Game Seven. The level of confidence -- in a city that saw three straight NFC Championship Game losses and a Super Bowl loss this decade, that still remembers the Whiz Kids -- well, it's just inspiring. Either that, or it's the necessary precondition for the heartbreak which may follow.

Our starting pitcher is well-rested, and thanks to this day off our city is finally a bit rested as well. Let's play ball.

[No Humiliation today; we need to give it a break every now and then.]
TICKETS ARE 10% OFF IF YOU ARRIVE WITH A UNION CARD AND A WEDDING COAT: Not content to merely play BtR, BitUSA and Darkness in their entireties on this last-for-a-while tour, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will be performing both The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle and The River in sequence at the Garden this weekend. While Jen continues to pine for Nebraska night and The Pixies current tour features a run through Doolittle (oh! ho! ho! ho!), for what artist/full album concert are you waiting?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

RESOLVED -- ALL POST-ELIMINATION NEW PARTNERSHIPS SHOULD RECEIVE A WADE ROBSON ROUTINE THEIR FIRST WEEK TOGETHER: The open was interesting for the amount of channeling that was going on. Molleee: Norma Desmond. Kevin: Twitch. Channing; Kristen Bell. Jakob: Sark. After that, plenty to like fine, but not so much to lurve.

  • Above all, Adam Shankman. Funny, substantive, mercifully free of punny witticisms. Willing to pratfall mightily. And to cite historical choreography.
  • Legacy and Kathryn. Geesebump.
  • Ellenore's refusal to get thrown by a severe wardrobe malfunction. I was more thrown than she was -- couldn't pay attention to the tango whatsoever.
  • Karen and Kevin body shop hippity hop. Who knew that Tabitha and Napoleon still had the dirty in them?
  • Wade's bizarro mind. Discarded Starry Night characters coming back to haunt Van Gogh?
  • Cat's dress. Not a lot of people can successfully wear a flesh-colored dress.
  • The Tyce gospel number. I agree that it got kind of rote toward the end, but it started strong (particularly Bianca - grr) and I thought the judges were unduly negative.
  • Ashleigh and Sark's Viennese waltz. Very sweet and smoochy. I wonder whether choreographers in future weeks will heed Shankman's admonition not to put Sark's split leap into every single number or Nigel's request that the leap appear weekly.
  • This show falls all over itself to worship at the shrine of Bollywood. It wasn't that good.
  • The painfulness of the Channing/Phillip samba.
  • Shut up about Paula.
  • The female ouster.
  • Why does everyone always feel a need to say "but you're a LATIN dancer" to explain why Latin dancers, more than any other genre of dancers of the show, shouldn't be able to do anything outside the scope of salsa and samba? And why is the Argentine Tango not a Latin dance? Am I missing something in the definition of Latin?
THERE WILL BE BANJO: No, ladies and gentlemen, Neil Patrick Harris will not manage to add a third major hosting gig to his portfolio this year. Instead, your co-hosts for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards will be Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin.

added by Adam: According to Nikki Finke, the first invite went to a Ben Stiller/Robert Downey Jr. combo. The Tropic Thunder stars declined, as did Tina Fey for a Martin/Fey pairing.
SING, SING, SING (WITH A SWING): Due to some baseball game being played in the Bronx tomorrow night, we don't get new Glee until next week, but two tidbits:
  1. Glee: The Music: Volume One arrives in stores today. It's mostly the stuff that's already made its way to iTunes, though with some notable exceptions (no "Push It," neither of the mash-ups, no "Could Have Danced All Night" or "Thong Song"), and two additions ("Defying Gravity" and "Dancing With Myself") from the next episode.
  2. A Volume Two tracklist is out, indicating we'll be getting music by the Police, the Rolling Stones, Lily Allen, and The Pretenders in upcoming episodes.
THE KING OF ILLITERATURE: Klosterman, on Kurt Cobain's efforts to sound less commercial for In Utero:
He wanted to make Nirvana culture a hermetic culture; he wanted it to be insular and manageable and uncompromised.... And this was never going to work. It was never going to work because the sector of the audience Cobain hoped to alienate did not really care what In Utero sounded like. What Cobain failed to accept is that there is nothing that "sounds mainstream" to mainstream listeners. Music critics have an inflexible description of what mainstream music sounds like, but music consumers do not; to the consumer, the definition of mainstream is whatever everyone else is listening to. In 1993, "mainstream rock" was Nirvana, regardless of their style or intention. The sonic dimensions were a minor detail.
Hmm. Short of The Boredoms, say, is there a band you can think of that couldn't eventually be deemed to sound "mainstream" to consumers?

Monday, November 2, 2009

IN WHICH CHAPLIN'S THE GREAT DICTATOR FUNCTIONS AS L'ENFANT PLAZA: The Greatest Films of All Time ... in subway map form?

related: Movie Narrative Charts, via xkcd. (HT: sconstant.)
SERIOUSLY? THAT'S THE BEST NAME YOU COULD THINK OF?: Next week, Horrible Turn, a fan made and wholly unauthorized Dr. Horrible prequel, will be unleashed on the Internet. Yes, there's a trailer, and it appears we have young Dr. H and young Captain Hammer, and what vaguely appears to be an academic competition of some sort.

ETA: Related--Joss Whedon will happily pay you $10K for rights to the Terminator franchise.
YOU MUST CUT DOWN THE MIGHTIEST TREE IN THE FOREST WITH....A HERRING!: A solid leg of the Amazing Race: a counting task, a reading comprehension challenge, and an in situ Philimination!

There has been almost no airport fu on this Season. I cannot believe that the one flight to Amsterdam from Dubai leaves at midnight and that the teams simply accepted that. Nothing via Frankfurt or London that might have shaved a few hours? One team specifically asked for a non-stop, so that may have been an off-camera restraint. Still, it was one of my favorite parts of the show in earlier seasons and it seems to be all but gone.

Now with the Roadblock, how did Megan and Cheyne manage the detour together and not be hit with at least a 30 minute penalty? On a counting task especially, smart doubling-up can avoid a lot of errors. [Ed -- Oops. I was confused, two folks from different teams worked together, my bad. Watched this early a.m. on TiVo and had yet to wake up fully]. Erika was at that task for at least two hours with no help. Good tasks on the Detour but no task should be essentially impossible for smaller women to perform. After 70+ attempts, they never got it above about 2/3 up the post, something less than half the force required. That's unreasonable.

Next week - Hay Bales!
A LITTLE OLDIE CALLED 'JACK AND DIANE': First in an occasional series of posers inspired by Chuck Klosterman's new nonfiction book Eating the Dinosaur -- Klosterman notes that in 1985's Back to the Future, Marty McFly goes back to 1955 and calls "Johnny B. Goode," a 1958 recording, "an oldie where I come from" though it was recorded only twenty-seven years earlier. That's almost the same amount of time, Klosterman notes, between today and Back to the Future's own release, "Yet nobody would ever refer to Back to the Future as an 'oldie,' even if he or she were born in the 1990s." He posits:
What seems to be happening is a dramatic increase in cultural memory. As culture accelerates, the distance between historical events feels smaller. The gap between 2010 and 2000 will seem far smaller than the gap between 1980 and 1970, which already seemed far smaller than the gap between 1950 and 1940. This, I suppose, is society's own version of time travel (assuming this trend continues for eternity. (p. 58, n. 3)
Now, I think Klosterman's wrong, or at least is on one key particular. In our cultural language, the term "oldie" does not refer to a particular period of time after a music's release but rather has been reified to encapsulate a specific time frame of music -- music from the formative days of rock and roll, from "Rock Around the Clock" through doo-wop, Elvis, Motown and the British invasion, including early Beatles/Stones, with mid-1960s and after being classified as beginning of the "classic rock" era instead. No amount of time's passage will allow us to call early-1980s new wave as "oldies" to us, in the same way that no amount of TNT's referring to a mix of 1980s films as The New Classics will alter our definition of the Classic Film Era as something which closed before the end of the 1960s.

So, a two-part question: how do you classify a song as an "oldie"; and regardless of whether that makes Klosterman wrong on that specific, is he nevertheless right about the whole acceleration of cultural memory thing? Is it just that (and even incorporating 9/11 into this analysis) our world has changed a lot less from 1999 to 2009 than it did between 1980 and 1990, or contrarily that we won't recognize how much different today is from a decade ago until much more time has passed?
APPROXIMATELY ONE-THIRDS OF WHICH REDUCE TO 'MAKE YOURSELF AND YOUR PREFERENCES INVISIBLE TO THE CUSTOMER': Budding restaurateur Bruce Buschel lists fifty tips for his restaurant staffers. (A sequel is forthcoming.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

TWO A-HOLES HIT ON BETTY DRAPER: You'd think with November being sweeps, SNL would bring out its big guns in the hosting ranks, especially since there's big stars, but after next week's Taylor Swift show, they seem to be relying on musical guests for the star power--November 14 is January Jones (who has a small part in Pirate Radio) and the Black Eyed Peas (currently at even money for Elisabeth Moss guest appearance), and, no, we won't get the Timberlake episode for Thanksgiving, but instead Joseph Gordon-Levitt (rather inexplicably, since (500) Days Of Summer doesn't arrive on DVD till December, and GI Joe is already out) with musical guest Dave Matthews Band. I doubt either will be bad (though Jones hasn't demonstrated much in the way of comedy chops previously), but they're odd choices, given that you have big names with big movies out in the window like John Cusack, Jim Carrey, Sandra Bullock, Cameron Diaz (who I wouldn't be surprised to see pop up in a Cougar Den sketch on one of the episodes), and the Twilight kids. (And can we please have Robert Downey, Jr., host either the Christmas show or the season finale?)
HEARTS AND THOUGHTS THEY FADE, FADE AWAY: Pearl Jam closed down the Philadelphia Spectrum last night. (Setlist here.) As we were leaving the game at 12:30 last night, I could actually hear that final song, the indecipherable "Yellow Ledbetter," booming out into the street as about a hundred people stood just outside the Spectrum's doors to take it all in.

When Pearl Jam's four-concert gig was announced as the last for the 42-year-old arena, I didn't get it at first -- what was their connection to Philadelphia or the arena? Why wasn't the last show the $6 Hall & Oates/Todd Rundgren/Hooters show they threw together last week? But then I figured it out -- freed from the cultural shackles of the "alternative" movement which birthed it (hell, my first PJ show was eighteen years ago this week) one could view Pearl Jam as what it always was -- America's youngest classic rock band, in aesthetic and sound, perfect to close down a place built by Deep Purple, George Thorogood and Queen. [True story: during the rain delay, my 78-year-old dad asked me, Pearl Jam ... that's Eddie Vedder, right? (Yes.) Do I know anyone else in the group? (No, I don't think so.) Is he the one who dated that woman from One Day At A Time? (Well, he got the first name, the last initial and the profession right.)

We started our farewell back in July 2008. I'll let you know when the demolition plans are set.

added: I still can't believe they let centaurs into the league.